Impulse Vs. Instinct: A Single’s Guide


Let’s face it: We all have a bit of impulsive behavior to one extent or another. Retailers capitalize greatly on it; those piles of  lower-priced items near the cash registers are a prime example of impulse-buy temptations. I know I’ve picked up a pack of gum or a lip gloss, not needing them, on many occasions.

Impulses can lead us into all kinds of unfortunate situations, some of which could be irreversible. In terms of relationships, our impulses can most certainly end up in regret and remorse. It doesn’t always work that way, of course, but more often than not, it’s been my experience that impulses and impulsive behaviors are not our friends. 

I’d begun thinking about this when a friend mentioned that I need to differentiate impulse from instinct. At that time, I didn’t even know what she meant. I had no idea how anyone could tell the difference. She made it very clear to me when she explained, “Just review every bad decision that you later regretted. Chances are that decision started with an impulse.”

Well, that certainly gave me pause. Then she told me something that made it all clear:

“Think of almost every retreat you’ve gone on. You’d always come back telling me how the first few days, your thoughts were racing. Those thoughts are impulses. But remember, after a few days, you’d relax and feel more at peace and then at some point, hear a quiet voice in your head? That voice is your instinct.”

She then gave me some invaluable advice. If those first thoughts you have when you’re faced with a decision are racing around in your head, they might be impulsive. The best thing to do, first and foremost, is slow down. 

Ask yourself a few questions before making a decision: 

  • Who benefits from this?
  • How will I benefit from it?
  • What are the benefits costing?
  • Which is worth more?

In terms of cost and worth, think about these options: 

  • Am I being taken advantage of under the guise of being charitable?
  • Am I risking my reputation in order to become more popular?
  • Is a compromise devaluing my authenticity?

My friend gave me advice I’d like to pass on: Carry something in your pocket or wear something – a crucifix, for instance – that would help remind you to ask yourself these questions. My friend said it would be a reminder to check in with your “internal compass.” Holding onto it while considering all options may help you to slow down and listen to your instincts, rather than fall prey to your impulses. 


CatholicMatchers, how has instinct guided your dating life? When has impulse influenced your thinking? For better or worse?



  1. Francisco-687803 June 16, 2012 Reply

    I once faced this when deciding between two different girls to date. Turns out I made the wrong decision out of impulse. She turned out to be quite different than what I expected and I realized that the other one was the right choice. No I got none of them, LOL. Oh well, lessons are good.

  2. Angie-812851 June 12, 2012 Reply

    I think this is a great blog! I agree to just take a minute and slow down.. In the past I think it is easy to get caught up in the “fast lane”. I am greatful and thankful I finally learned to just slow down and have peace. This is when God speaks to us…It is up to us to be quiet and listen! Also the power of obedience with the Lord to stop, listen and obey rather than do impulse and regret!!

  3. Stephen-725391 June 12, 2012 Reply

    It always helps me when articles like these include suggested questions, checklists etc as guidance. Certainly rings true but again with an organized set of concrete suggestions it’s easier to understand and implement. Thanks, Stephen

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